Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Heresy of Worldly Comfort

This heresy the South was born into, as Richard Beale Davis reveals to us in his masterwork Intellectual Life in the Colonial South 1585-1763:

By the 1585, British eyes saw the area they would settle as a terrestrial paradise, implicitly a tropical or semi­-tropical paradise. For most it was a new Eden, another land of Canaan. For some it was more nearly a pagan Arcadia which might be brought to Christ at the same time it became a comfortable and even luxurious home for Europeans (bolding added -- W.G.).

Source:  Brion McClanahan, ‘The Oldest South’,, posted 12 August 2014, accessed 20 August 2014

Life in Christ and worldly comfort can have no fellowship.  Yet this is the heresy most of the Western European nations and their offspring have fallen to, because of their rejection of the True God and True Faith and True Church for human-ruled organizations called Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.  These, having lost full communion with the Most Holy Trinity, have substituted the ‘kingdom of goods’ (St Nikolai Velimirovich) for the Kingdom of Heaven.

What the South and all the Western nations need is a re-evaluation of comfort - and of suffering.  About such Gabe Martini writes in ‘Carrying the Cross and Suffering in Hope’:

 . . . A falsehood spread throughout the broader Christian world today is that God adopts us into his family without anything expected of us. Or even worse, we are promised a better life, happiness, and even material wealth or worldly success. But this is really the opposite of what the scriptures promise. Paul again reminds us that “we were saved by hope” (Rom. 8:24). Our salvation is not realized immediately, nor is it a ‘flip of the switch’ in one’s mental assent of faith, but is rather a journey that begins in Baptism and is consummated on the Last Day. And until that day, we are awaiting our true salvation. From the beginning of our salvation journey to the end is a whole lifetime of trials, temptations, suffering, discipline, asceticism, struggle, and growth.

Being “saved in hope” also means knowing in whom we place our trust:

Who shall separate us form the love of Christ? Affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . But in all these things we more than conquer through the One Who loved us. —Rom. 8:35,37

While we are almost guaranteed a life marked by affliction, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword, we have assurance of victory through the love of Christ. Our hope is in him. He is our assurance, just as he is true Life.

Since we are guaranteed as much, our prayer should be to see suffering transformed into salvation. As Elder Paisios has said:

In every test, let us say: “Thank you, my God, because this was needed for my salvation.”

Similarly, Fr. Seraphim Rose:

Only struggle a little more. Carry your cross without complaining. Don’t think you are anything special. Don’t justify your sins and weaknesses, but see yourself as you really are. And, especially, love one another.

When faced with struggle or temptation, ask God that we might struggle a little more. Give thanks to God that we are being provided an opportunity for our sanctification and salvation in him. Look to Christ as a source of strength—as one who suffered all, and yet without sin. Consider the lives of the Saints, who have imaged Christ in their own struggles.

In the end, remember that Christ didn’t suffer so that we wouldn’t have to. He suffered, died, and conquered death-by-death so that we could handle suffering with him. Casting our lot with Christ is a calling to suffering, a calling to carry a Cross—whether great or small.

But through Christ, through the mysteries of the Church, and through our own individual struggle and ascesis, we can live as co-heirs of him, prepared for future glory.

Source:, posted 30 June 2014, accessed 20 August 2014

May we in the South learn once more the incomparable value of suffering together with our Crucified and Risen Lord for the sake of our salvation, that we too might arise in the Glory of the Holy Ghost on the day of Christ’s return.

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